Maharashtra FDA directs junk food brands and food courts to label products containing caffeine
Mumbai ,Jan 11: Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent directives to McDonald’s and food courts in multiplexes to clearly label products with ‘contains caffeine’ warnings, has been welcomed by doctors and public health experts. Caffeinated beverages, including cold drinks, will now carry the sign on its containers.
“While conducting inspection of a McDonald’s outlet in Kolhapur we found no caffeine disclaimers were printed. A consumer must be made aware if a product contains caffeine. I have issued orders to all joint commissioners to inspects other retail outlets and multiplexes as well,” FDA Maharashtra FDA Commissioner Harshadeep Kamble said. He has also written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ensure that the initiative is replicated across the country.
“Caffeine is a psycho-active drug that affects the brain. It can also cross the placenta barrier, that is why pregnant women are asked to cut down on caffeine. It can have detrimental effect like increasing irritability, affect sleep patterns and can also increase heart rate and blood pressure,” said Dr Sanjay Kalra, consultant endocrinologist, Bharti Hospital and vice president, South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies.
In favour of the move by the FDA, Dr Kalra said that the labelling will help consumers make an informed choice.
While caffeine addiction is known to affect concentration among children and sleep disorders, not many recognise it as a problem.
“People seek help for nicotine addiction but few even see caffeine addiction as a problem. Caffeine tends to suppress appetite and many youngsters like it because it helps them lose weight,” said Dr Maithili Umate, associate professor, Grant Government Medical College and JJ Hospital. She added that since caffeine interferes with the absorption of calcium in the bones, many young people are likely to complain of bone related issues and see a doctor for that instead.
“The international community has been raising this concern for a long time now. I am glad initiatives are being undertaken, too, especially as we are moving to a lifestyle where meeting for coffee is seen as the ‘in thing’,” said Dr Shweta Khandelwal, Associate Professor, Public Health Foundation of India.
Dr Kalra cautions that if addicted to caffeine or energy drinks, one must always inform the doctor as the root cause of an illness could be the addiction.
“Efforts should also be made to enhance consumers’ understanding of the issue. It should not stop at labelling. We should empower consumers with the right knowledge, too, to make an informed decision,” added Dr Khandelwal.